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Happy You-Ess Birthday, everyone.
Bob of QF
Well, it's That Time again.

The Time where us Yanks and other You-Ess-ians go into the garage, and drag out the portable cookery, buy some fake [smells of petroleum] "cooking fuel", fix up the rickety aluminum folding chairs, dump out and bleach the old ice chest (THAT's where we left those hot dogs from last summer), buy some sex-in-a-canoe beer, try to get that beach umbrella working again this year [failed], dig out the old moth-eaten blankets still with sand from last time, dust off our sun hats.

Then pile all, with the kids and assorted neighbor's hangers-on offspring, into the overstuffed auto (usually a beatup pickup, with everything piled in the back, (including 4 adults in a front seat designed for 3 at most), drive to just out of town where the old, but freshly painted wooden fireworks stands are placed, wait in line to buy overpriced, and underpowered Chinese fireworks (why do we help the Chinese economy on our own country's birthday? Ought to be Traditional to buy American-made works, on this day if none else...)... oh, don't forget the matches and lighter fluid [for the barby, silly].

Stop at the local [not-at-all] convenient store to purchase the last-minute stuff we either forgot at home, or forgot to buy yesterday (real grocery stores closed, now), including the special diet-no-caffeine-no-artificial-no-flavor-what's-the-point-anyhow brand of soda for the pick-picky in the party.

Oh, and those floppy, cheap paper plates that dump your food for the dog. And some last-forever-plastic cups-- [which makes one think, humanity has invented last-for-millenia-throw-away drinking cups, but cannot create an automobile that gets 60mpg.... what's up with that? ]

Finally, all arrive at the Favorite Fourth Of July Shootin' Spot-- just outside of town, to avoid the stiff fines for fireworks in town, but not so far as to be hours-long drive. [We know it's our spot--- see the drinking cups 1/2 buried in the sand, from previous years? With a bit of washing, they would still be sorta usable....]

Everyone piles out, gathering around the old beat-up concrete picnic table-- the one with one corner broken off, and that is so old, the surface is akin to a 60grit grinding wheel [again, this year we forgot to bring the sitting pads we promised last year we'd remember to bring-- we even set them out-- somewhere in the house].

All the ertaz food is set out on top of the old food-stained sheets we always use for a tablecloth-- see? There's the stain from last year, where the Fanta Strawberry soda bottle dumped it's entire 2 liters, and here is the stain from 3 years ago, where the soccer ball landed smack in the middle of the not-yet-eaten, but cooling raspberry pie grandma sent, and there's the stains from the watermelon eating contest from way back when... it's a bit of family history in indelible food stains.

Did we remember to bring everything? No? We forgot the mayonnaise this year? Too bad-- have to go with either plain, ketchup or mustard on the mystery-meat "hot" dogs. [why do they call them 'hot' dogs anyhow? By the time you get them off the grill, into your bun, fix add on all the still-cool toppings, get your scoop of baked beans (to later either drip through your too-thin paper plates, or spill over the side), and a dollop of either potato salad or cole slaw or perhaps both, a spear of dill pickle and top up your drink--- the "hot" dog is room temperature..... ].

But, carefully sitting down on the rickety aluminum folding chair (so as not to cause it's premature folding), balancing your paper disc (if it's made of cardboard, it does not qualify for the word "plate"Wink across your knees [yep, either the baked beans or the cole slaw has seeped through already] you sit back (not too far-- chair would break), take a sip of your sex-in-a-canoe, and look about and sigh:

The kids are having a blast, with their sparklers and some firework-snakes. Some of the older ones are already shooting off bottle rockets out over the lake. Everyone is talking like they are best of friends, and familial differences momentarily put aside, to enjoy just being here in a melu of social interaction-- like the good little monkeys we are underneath the thin veneer of civilization.

THIS is why we come, every year. The fireworks, when it finally gets dark, are only a short punctuation mark for the real reasons we pause and celebrate: we are social creatures-- we do best when we are being social.

Much, much later, when the little kids are snoozing on the shoulders of tired parents, being carried back to the vehicles, and your ears are still ringing from those super-giant but only slightly illegal "ultimate rocket-bombs" that uncle Phil brought [where he got them, you don't ask and really don't want to know], all the trash you could see was gathered up and stuffed into the overly full 55 gallon trash barrels [including the last-for-a-1000-years-but-disposable cups], all the leftover food scraped out for the wildlife (you can still hear the gulls arguing over some of it), all the folding chairs folded for another year, dragging the cooler [this year, you promise to clean it out as soon as you get home]... and you look back and wonder.

Why can't we be like this all year around?


I suppose, if we did, this special day would no longer be.... special.

Happy You-Ess Birthday, everyone.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
Nice Bob, and an excellent all-round, accurate depiction.

We'll be doing our usual, which is staying home with the dogs since they freak with fireworks, thunder and lightening. We're grilling, but using the everyday dinner ware and glasses (maybe a re-usable plastic cup here and there).

Hope everyone celebrating is having a blast.

Edited by Hypatia on 07/04/2010 16:24
Nice narrative bob. We don't have fireworks around here (illegal) and the city can't afford the display they usually have after sundown. But we do have those plates and cups.

Edited cause it's easier than spell check. I guess.
Edited by derF on 07/05/2010 01:27
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
So whats this 4th of July all about then. We dont celebrate it in the UK so it cannot hold any importance what-so-ever.Wink
Damn, I've been doing it wrong all these years
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Damnit, I've forgotten to check on the Share It feature. This was a post worthy of sharing, Bob. Thanks.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
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